March 9, 2020
UK to stop mass badger culls and use vaccines to protect cattle from tuberculosis
The government will stop the mass badger culls and use wildlife vaccines on badgers to protect cattle from bovine tuberculosis (TB), reported The Independent UK.
Government ministers said they will vaccinate badgers, improve cattle testing to detect bovine TB earlier and initiate cattle vaccine studies.
Wildlife conservation groups were delighted with the decision they said will stop the culling of a protected species, which affected taxpayers, farmers and animals.
One of the groups, the Badger Trust said 60 million GBP were used to cull 100,000 badgers since 2013, with 30,000 bovine TB cattle culled annually.
While there is criticism that current culling campaigns drive badgers away and spreads bovine TB to more areas, dairy farmers have defended the culling focused at bovine TB prevalent areas.
The ministers said there is a possibility that badger culling may be reintroduced if there was concrete evidence that badgers spread bovine TB.
University of Surrey researchers developed test to differentiate between vaccinated and infected cattle last year. Alongside this skin test, new blood tests called gamme interferon tests will be conducted to isolate infected cattle from the healthy herd.
Intensive badger culls have been done in 57% of England's bovine TB high risk areas. Environment department chiefs said once cattle vaccinations' safety and efficacy have been approved, it will be a strong measure in the battle against bovine TB.
The government aims to eliminate bovine TB by 2038. Updated data from the government showed new bovine TB incidents in herds in England dropped 9% in the year to November 2019.
- The Independent UK